Once upon a time I was thinking that I was born Ukrainian and will always stay Ukrainian. Which would've made sense, if I stayed in Ukraine and didn't decide to live abroad. Which, as you know, I did, and it really changed me in so many senses.
My first living abroad experience was, as you know, it Thailand. Did I become Thai in six months? Of course not. But after that I wasn't 100% Ukrainian anymore, because I really loved the culture and left a piece of my heart there. It may sound ridiculous to someone, but I really felt how much I've changed because of this experience.
Then I came to Italy. It was 2,5 years ago, during which I've done many cool things, learned a new language, got a lot of new friends, finished my volunteering, went home, came back to Palermo and started a completely different part of my life.
What actually made me reflect on the ways Italy changed me was a simple Facebook memory. I came to Italy on April 6th 2014. And this year Facebook showed me a photo that one of my fellow volunteers took during one of our first week in Palermo. I shared it and one of my Ukrainian friends (that also lives here, in Palermo) wrote a comment: "Awwww, you still look so Ukrainian on that photo".
I looked and it and suddenly saw what she saw. I really do look "still Ukrainian" on that photo. And I cannot even explain why - I still have the same clothes pieces and I still wear them. So it's not the question of clothes. It's something different.
So did my two years in Italy made me Italian?
Of course not. I will always be a foreigner here (and mind you - an Eastern European foreigner). But I see so much Italian in me now that I'm sure I'm not fully Ukrainian anymore. I love my country with all my heart, but I live in Italy now and for the foreseeable future, and I know I get a lot more local.
It goes way beyond making coffee in a caffetiera every morning or buying Kiko make-up. And it's inevitable. I'm okay with this, even thought on some level it scares me. When I got home after my EVS I already felt a bit like a foreigner in my own country. And I know this feeling will only become stronger. So feeling foreigner in two countries you love is quite unsettling. But also kind of liberating, if you think of it.
Let's wait and see, I guess. Life is a very funny thing if it brought me where I am today.